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The Little Things


Pseudonym
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It's been a while since I last logged on. Since then I've been going through a lot of changes, that of desires, habits, and goals.

For the first time in my life, I am making mostly good decisions. I'm excelling at work, I am attending college in order to obtain a managerial position in the company I work for, I've started working out and trying to eat correctly, I'm even uncharacteristically becoming more social, and appreciative of people, my bills are paid, my rent isn't due, All I need to do is my taxes and I'll be set. I'm on the right track, I know this because I plotted this track, I've set the right goals.

So why is it that every day seems to drag on? Why am I still always tired, impatient, and otherwise difficult?

It's finally getting to me, the "doing the right thing," attitude that I hold on my shoulders. I feel like atlas, but instead of the globe, I have petty problems that I can't seem to shrug off. First and foremost, I'm living hand to mouth, I owe money to my former land lord, one of my friends, my family, and even the goddamn government. I just can't pay, and the worst thing is I really want to. I hate owing money.

The next big thing is something I hold even more valuable than money. Time. I wonder where it goes sometimes. I wake up at six, am at work at seven, off work at 3:30, then I hit the gym, and straight to school until about 10. By that time I'm ready to go to bed and start it all over again. I spend a lot of time wondering where that time went.

My health of course comes next, both mental and physical. On the physical end, I have just found out that I have a mild fatty liver. A not-to-serious condition, but something about one of my major organs not working right kind of makes me nervous. But because the treatment is weight loss, and I've already lost in the neighborhood of twenty pounds, it should be alright, but still... On top of that I have an unusually low testosterone count for a person in my age range (in the early twenties). This concerns me on multiple levels, making me wonder if my adult-like decisions might be because of this, and on the other end it's a challenge to my masculinity, which already comes to a serious challenge.

In the mental spectrum, I'm an alphabet soup. I have been officially diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, OCD, and an Unspecified Mood Disorder. Most of the time I can keep them under control, but there are times I find it hard to keep focused, I will explode over minor things, or I will begin organizing the world around me to calm the stress (straight lines make me happy). I feel depressed and lethargic most of the time, I'm obsessing over things that I've figured out, but don't like the answer. So I rethink them, and rethink them (As Albert Einstein would say, this is the definition of insanity). I know I bring my mental problems onto myself, but I honestly don't know how to stop (as much as I want to).

As for my friends and family, I hardly see either of them, and If I do see at least my family it is in a business setting. If anybody has ever worked for their family, they can understand how frustrating it is to have the added financial burden onto the already stressful family environment. Because of my akward situation, I find myself having nobody to turn to. My friend, I don't wish to burden their already stressful lives and give them my stress. So in these cases I usually turn to family. But, for all my father's wisdom, he is quite judgemental, albeit kindhearted, it makes it difficult to approach him with problems. My less judgemental mother is, well let's simply say she lacking in the emotional support category, so no go there either. The rest of my family I like to keep at more of a friendly distance, taking the same philosophy as my friends. The don't need my petty problems.

Lastly, my romantic life leaves little to desire. I live alone, I've had one date in the last nine months (and it's not for lack of trying). It might be my intelligence, I tend to speak over a lot of people's heads with out realizing it. I know just enough to be dangerous. And usually I can make one interesting point about any topic. This is the point in which intelligence begins to alienate a person. People don't like feeling stupid, and too often do I leave people (unintentionally) feeling like that. But it could be something more, I don't know, I'm not good with romance.

I know this all is kind of stupid, I'm under no illusion that this is the most serious case here. It seems that it’s the little things that get me the most (at least when their in big groups). I just... I don't know what else to do, I can't turn to my family, my friends, I can't afford a therapist. I kind of feel helpless. If anybody has any advice, or just support, I would be happy to hear it.

- Anonymous

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Hey Pseudonym,

well I must say I can relate to a couple of things in there. I'll have to think if I actually have an advice. Actually I am a bit reluctant to give any advice. I can only tell you of my own experience with goals, loneliness, and such.

I think first of that doing the right thing is certainly a good way to keep yourself afloat. Even if it seems like a day to day burden.

Anyway, I have experimented times and times again with 'doing the right thing' by my definition, and redefining what that is...

things have contributed to put me down.

1] when I have goals that are not defined well and are too distant in the future and are, after examination, unrealistic.

2] when I disregard goals and/or ethics I've set for myself, and for which I know they are attainable. > that happens when I am bored with them.

4] when I brush off other essential needs that I discovered I had. Like socializing, rewarding myself with sweet nothings, getting my needs [that I find unimportant] met.

Another thing that I have noted, but still needs a lot of practice is that I tend to live for goals and work toward an end. But it cause me great distress when I realize time and time again that most tasks are reoccurring and will never really end. I call them 'maintenance tasks'.

For me, it's basically fighting boredom constantly with my goals and maintenance tasks. I constantly have to remind myself why I've come to the conclusion that it's far better and makes me happier to do these than if I didn't. I just use rationalization a lot. I have to because coercion doesn't agree with me. And also I switch up tasks that can be switched. I also put some sort of carrot in from of me when I feel like an infant who doesn't want to do something. Basically, I try and be a good parent to myself I guess. The one I wish I had had... One that let me have 'play' time and also discipline. I just had to rationalize a lot and see consequences of doing this versus that...Just like you probably did sounds like.

So, the conclusion is: would you be better of if you did or didn't do these things?

As per the 'needs', or pleasure or relaxation, as long as they don't hurt you, or others, why not try and meet them? Provide yourself with these temporary pleasures in life that you want. And when you are 'happy' of feeling good or whatever, really, really acknowledge it, be conscious of it.

Would there be a way for you to introduce some 'pleasure' in you schedule?

As per loneliness, I personally had to define what my threshold was. I can be perfectly fine not talking to anyone for a few days, but then I find I need to just see people. So I schedule that in now.

For the rest, if and when you find some resources, why not consult? Put it in your budget. You may have in the past, since you seem to have some knowledge of certain mental conditions you have. Life seems to be a never ending learning, maintaining, and re-establishing new goals... Ts when they are good, often they are, can help you improve they way you manage your tendencies. It may not be that you are in a crisis, but checking out how to improve you quality of life, physically and mentally seems part of the plan here no?

And finally, my take on intelligence is that it's not intelligence that alienates others, it's poor interpersonal skills. Lack of intelligence cannot be changed. Luckily, you don't lack in that department and skills can be learned relatively easily.

I have a friend who is brilliant, like 140+ or whatever... She likes to call me soandsonooddle [as sometimes I don't quite calculate or read as fast as she can]. We often like to debate this and that and I learn a lot of stuff from her, But I often joke when I can't place a word for a while: "blah blah, blah, we've read the same bloody books, I just don't read them as fast, but I've paid attention, you're not about to bullshit me smarty pants".

anyway,

I wish you the best

take care

T

Edited by tourdelove
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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Pseudonym and Tourdelove,

Its important that there be a balance in life. The balance is always between the "have to do things" and the "pleasure and relaxation things." If we don't integrate the two then we neglect part of ourselves. That is why its important to make time for friends and family and for ourselves. I include in this all those little things.

What are little things? I have noticed that, when I take time, just a moment, coming out of the house or office, for example, and look up, I enjoy seeking the sky. What do I see? I see cloud formations that fascinate me, I see birds, I take note of the sun, I smell the air and season, etc.

Aren't all of us too busy doing instead of living?

What about living: experiencing nice little things?

Allan

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Hi pseudonym,

I can relate to the feeling you're purveying throughout your post. That feeling that despite doing everything right, there's still something missing. So unfair...

I find meditation techniques great to lessen those phases of mental rehashing that always feel like such a waste of time. But I know from experience that's it's quite frustrating for an analytical mind to find useful information about meditation without getting irritated by the copious amounts of spirituality often involved, so allow me to give you a quick rundown.

Unlike other primates, we humans have the ability to let our higher cognitive functions take over our breathing tempo, normally regulated by the brain stem. Rate of breathe in turn controls the heart rate. Breathe as well as the heart determine the amount of oxygen our cells and specifically the brain receive, and therefore determine our physical and mental energy level. This altogether is the path through which our consciousness can regulate its own energy level, and you can actually become good at this through practice!

The point of meditation is to lower your energy level through regular, deep and slow breathing. Once a certain energy level is reached, higher cognitive functions stop working, like what happens when you're trying to sleep. Now, there's a catch here, because some cognitive functions act as defense mechanisms to others. Your consciousness can get "startled" by certain emerging thoughts, creating an involuntary chain reaction of similar startling thoughts. For example:

"I'm a loser."

"Oh shit, I shouldn't think this way, I'm meditating! I should be relaxed!"

"Why do I keep thinking I'm a loser?"

"Oh yeah, because I have this and this and that problem."

"Let's not think about what kind of loser I am."

"I am a loser."

"Oh god, I'm really not good at this. Why the hell am I doing this?"

"I'm a loser."

"Damn it all, this sucks, let's get back to work."

Now, such thoughts will occur. It's a known psychological phenomenon. Another trick to successful meditation is to know how to handle them:

"I'm a loser."

"Oh hi Mr. Thought, how are you today? I won't suppress you, but I acknowledge you and allow myself to experience you. It's only then that I can let you go."

...

"I can't get a girlfriend."

"Oh hi Mr. Thought. I acknowledge and accept you, knowing that only acceptance will give a firm basis needed to be able to continue building my life."

(Note that you don't have to think those explicit sentences, I'm rather describing the feeling associated with unconditionally accepting thoughts. I like greeting my thoughts, though. :))

At a certain point in time there will be no more thoughts that pop up in your mind. The only thing you'll experience will be your breathing. Through practice it gets easier and easier to summon this state of tranquility.

Because you're essentially relaxing your defense mechanisms, you can use this state of mind to reprogram yourself. You can feed your mind positive information about yourself to lift your mood. You can focus on properties of the universe, its absurdity, its interconnectedness (this is a standard, classic thought, because feeling one with the universe negates the need for an ego, and cancels the need for a whole lot of defense mechanisms!). You can focus on your emotions, on what love means to you. Or on your purpose in life, or your death, or any philosophy you want to deeply ingrain into yourself. The possibilities are endless!

It takes some practice to get there, though. It's much like learning to work out in that regard. The first time you work out, you suck at it (well, at least I did :(), because your brain hasn't made that connection yet between neurotically damaging your muscles and feeling good, strong. First the mental connection has to be there, only then you can start shaping your body. Same with meditation. It will be frustrating in the beginning, because well, you'll just feel silly sitting there doing nothing, only because someone on the Internet said you should. :) A little trick to overcome the initial boredom is to count the seconds you're breathing in and breathing out. Breathe in 1, 2, 3, breathe out 1, 2, 3. Next, if you feel you're comfortable with breathing this way, try a second slower. Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4, breathe out 1, 2, 3, 4. Gradually you can train to slow down your breathing till you reach that point of low energy. You can make your own "games" to make focusing on your breath initially more pleasant. Don't force yourself, though. If you're really frustrated and fed up with the whole process, feel free to abandon it for a while. Just keep the possibility of meditation somewhere in the back of your mind.

I forgot to mention. Another side effect of successful meditation is increased awareness about time. Because you work on getting peace within your own mind, you don't have to escape from your own thoughts anymore. More brain functions will be allowed to interact with each other, and your daily activities won't be as isolated from your general experience of time anymore.

And before you ask, yes, this method is empirically proven to beat a placebo therapy. In fact, its effect size is on par with CBT, one of the best therapies in modern day psychology!

Okay, I didn't intend to turn this into an essay.. but hey, here you go. If you've got any questions, feel free to ask. If you're interested at least.. I should probably have asked first before writing this! :)

Much love,

Schillaci

Edited by Schillaci
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First, I would like to say thank you to everybody for their timely response.

In order, tourdelove, it is always good to know that somebody understands. As Billy Joel said, we're "drinking a drink we call loneliness, but it's better than drinking alone." Having somebody to relate to, even though I do not know them brings me comfort, it allows me to know that it can be gotten through.

Allen, thank you for your advise. Sometimes in all my analyzing I forget the small details that make things worth while. And simply remember the small details that make my life miserable. Unfortunately I hardly have time to do a lot, but maybe it's time to make time to appreciate the things that give me pleasure, such as helping people, and answering questions many consider unanswerable.

Finally, Schillaci, thank you for your well thought out response. Kudos first of all for pinning me as an analytical thinker. But in my many endeavors in spirituality, I discovered the power of meditation through my brief stint in Buddhism, and though I've left spirituality behind, the process in focusing or unfocusing myself is not lost on me. Maybe it's time to try meditation again. Anything can help.

Thank you all for your help, and I know it won't be the last time I ask. I will try to stick around here for a while. After all the most pleasure I got in some of the darkest times in my life was helping people. Maybe I can help and be helped as well.

- Anonymous.

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